However, it is a good idea to add some specific provisions to the lease itself or in an addendum to the lease which directly regulate animal activity. The benefit of adding such detailed provisions is that it makes it clear what rules the tenant must follow when keeping a pet on the property. Also it makes it easier for you to address and possibly evict a tenant for not following the specified rules.
Keep in mind that certain restrictions on a pet may not be permissible if the animal is an animal required by a tenant as a reasonable accommodation of his or her disability or is a service animal. Part 2 of this article will discuss the issues surrounding Service and Support Animals.
Landlord Liability for a Tenant’s Pets
1. Can you be liable if the tenant’s dog bites or otherwise
harms someone? Possibly. Under California law, an owner of
any dog is liable if a person is bitten by a dog in a public place or
while lawfully on the private property of the owner. A person
who is lawfully on the private property of the owner could
include someone invited on to the property or, for example,
a postal worker delivering the mail. ( Cal. C.C. §3342 ). This
liability is a form of “strict liability” as the owner is liable even if the dog had never acted in a vicious manner before or had never bitten anyone previously.
Assuming you are not the owner of the dog, you could be liable only if you knew about the dangerous propensities of the dog and could have removed the dog from the premises prior to its harming someone. The owner does not, however, have an obligation to affirmatively check, examine or otherwise evaluate the dog to find out about its nature or tendencies
Continued on page 6
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